Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lots of Fun Stuff

I've run across several links, each leading to something you might find useful for your students.

First, Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek quotes Arthur Seldon on some foundations of economics. I like the basic ideas, but I like citing the appropriate economist just as much.

Second, a case of gasoline arbitrage on the Columbian/Venezuelan border, as reported by the BBC. HT to Marginal Revolution.

Third, A Tale of Two Depressions on voxeu.org has been updated by the authors, Barry Eichengreen and Kevin O'Rourke. We need to see the trends play out, but it looks like this recession is not going to reach the level of the 1930s. I propose we have a new name waiting for when the NBER calls the end. My suggestion is "The More-Severe-Than-Average-But-Still-Not-Great" Recession.

Fourth and fifth are two items from National Public Radio's Money Planet blog. The first attempts to explain how a health-care system (health insurance) that lacks pricing discipline changes the quantity demanded. My major criticism is that it likens health insurance to an all-you-can-eat buffet. The problem: I don't know of many health insurance plans that are open-ended. So the example is not really a true comparison.

The second provides an argument for universal health care. The major criticism I have with this one is that it compares health care to other services that we usually classify as public goods. What makes them public goods is the fact that many of them (police, fire) are items that the market won't provide effectively until it's too late - if then.

Others (water, utilities) are items that are usually cost-prohibitive for markets to provide on small scale, and would benefit from some form of granted monopoly to provide scales of production large enough to be profitable.

Perhaps the only valid comparison is education. But the argument there may be normative - it is something we should do because it 'benefits' society. The problem there is, in many locales, you will find debate about the efficacy of providing the good through public channels.

I hope you find them helpful. Your comments or opinions on use in the classroom are welcome.

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